Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013 Annual Report
When Breaking the Cycle: Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy was launched in 2008, it signalled a bold, new vision for a fairer society. The strategy was based on the belief that every child, regardless of his or her background or circumstance, be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Over the past five years, the Ontario government has worked with community partners and made strategic investments in young people, families and the economy to help break the cycle of poverty in the province. These investments are making a difference -- 47,000 children and their families were lifted out of poverty between 2008 and 2011.
In 2013, Ontario continued to make progress in reducing poverty with the following initiatives and investments:
- Over one million children in about 530,000 families will receive support through the Ontario Child Benefit. In 2013, the benefit increased to a maximum $1,210 per child, per year and it will increase to $1,310 per child annually in July 2014.
- Almost 184,000 of Ontario's four- and five-year-olds and their families benefited from full-day kindergarten at approximately 2,600 schools.
- Close to 700,000 school-aged children and youth received healthy snacks and meals to better prepare them to learn through the Student Nutrition Program. Ontario increased its investment in the program by $3 million, bringing its total annual investment to $20.9 million.
- Approximately 35,000 children and youth benefitted from faster and easier access to the right mental health supports through 770 new mental health workers in schools, communities and provincial courts.
- More than 20,000 children and youth participated in free programs to help them get active, develop healthy eating habits, gain confidence and do better in school, through the province's After School Program.
- Stepping Up: A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario's Youth Succeed was released to guide government decisions related to youth and to help those that work with youth align their efforts toward common, evidence-based outcomes.
- An annual $5 million Youth Opportunities Fund was created to support local community initiatives in high-needs neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area. The grant application process opened earlier this year.
- About 230,000 college and university students received the 30% Off Ontario Tuition Grant.
- Introduced the Youth Jobs Strategy which will create 30,000 job opportunities for young people.
- More than $400 million over three years is being invested in social assistance to improve supports and remove barriers to help people find work.
Other Ontario Government Initiatives Supporting Poverty Reduction
- Introduced the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act to protect the province's most vulnerable workers and increase fairness for both employees and businesses.
- Introduced the Child Care Modernization Act to modernize the child care and early years system in Ontario, including expanding and strengthening government oversight.
- Reinstated access to essential and urgent health care for refugee claimants.
- Low- to moderate-income senior homeowners received approximately $210 million through the Ontario Senior Homeowners' Property Tax Grant to help pay their property taxes.
Measuring progress is a key part of Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy. Progress is measured against the following indicators:
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Ontario has made gains in every key indicator since the launch of the strategy. Since Statistics Canada data lags by 18 months, the 2013 Annual Report shows progress on income-based indicators for 2010 and 2011.
The province uses Statistics Canada's Low Income Measure, fixed to a base year of 2008, as the foundation for reporting progress on reducing child poverty. Ontario's fixed LIM50 lines are determined each year by applying the Consumer Price Index inflation rate to the base year.
While much has been achieved under the first Poverty Reduction Strategy, Ontario remains committed to supporting those in need.
Almost 2,000 people participated in online and in-person consultations this past summer and fall to provide input that will inform a new five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy, to be released in early 2014. This was an important opportunity for Ontarians to add their voices and offer their perspectives on how to best tackle the ongoing issue of poverty.Moving forward, the province will continue working diligently with all its partners -- including other levels of government, community agencies, businesses, young people, families and those who have lived in poverty -- to create opportunities for every Ontarian to achieve his or her full potential.